Pinky Pie

Maxwell House, Matzo, Peanut Butter & Me

Posted on: March 30, 2010

The Haggadah used in 1965.

I’m not exactly sure that peanut butter is acceptable on Passover, but I needed the protein on my matzo –  the unleavened bread that Jews eat over Passover. Throw in a couple prunes and it’s a Passover breakfast for me.

I just realized how much on autopilot I am in writing this blog. I started to write Passover breastfast.  I must be a little too obsessed with that treatment I finished two weeks ago today.

Yesterday I wrote that I was making a kugel – a Jewish dish that is like a casserole made from noodles (not Passover unless they are non-leavened) or potatoes, as I made it yesterday for the first Seder of Passover. In addition to potatoes – sweet and white – it had prunes (seeing a pattern here?), apples, a bit of honey and thickened orange juice. It was a hit again, but I don’t think I remembered what I did last year when it was also a hit. Next year, I probably won’t remember how I made it either.

We had a wonderful Seder last night, remembering the issues of freedom that remain today. We read from the traditional Hagaddah, the book from which the story is told. We also had applicable readings about modern day issues like peace, freedom and the environment.

Sometimes it feels like the Seder is so long that it’s like pulling teeth. That may be explained because as a kid we went to our dentist’s house for Passover. He and his wife  (Clem and Curly) were also very good friends of our family.

What I remember most about Clem was him giving his opinions on issues when his hands were in my mouth and I couldn’t argue back.

He also had to tell my parents that my brother had many, many cavities at one visit. Andy at that point was chewing multiple pieces of Bazooka bubblegum. How, I don’t know, because that stuff sure loses its flavor very quickly.  I’m sure that the cost of repairing those teeth today would be equal to a small house’s mortgage. I believe that was the end of Andy’s Bazooka days, at least in front of my parents.

Andy was also a pitcher on local baseball teams so he may have been chewing gum like the professional players chewed (please be past tense) tobacco.

Curly I remember, because she beat my mom in orderliness and cleanliness, something that mattered to my mother a lot. That orderliness and cleanliness thing flew over my head, however.

At Passover, each part of the meal has traditions and readings that come from a book called the Haggadah. My cousin, Arthur, has a collection of Haggadahs that we shared one year. Each of us read from one that we picked up at different parts of the Seder.  Each Haggadah follows the same traditions and practices, but the words with them are different. All  have traditional songs sung after the meal.

Back in St. Louis, the Haggadah that we used was produced and distributed by Maxwell House since the 1930s, except for two years during World War II when paper was in short supply. Something like 50 million Haggadahs have been distributed worldwide, making it the most commonly used.

Maxwell House began printing this booklet  after it became the first coffee to become certified Kosher for Passover.  As one writer said about the Maxwell House volume: “A Haggadah that’s good to the last song.” It was also the book that President Obama used in the White House in 2009 and 2010.

Many more items have become Kosher for Passover since Maxwell House, including Bazooka bubblegum. I hope my brother doesn’t get any ideas.

Jumping back to the St. Louis seder, the biggest moment at the home of Curly and Clem was when the door was opened for “Elijah,” traditionally done after the meal. A glass of wine also is poured for the Elijah in case the prophet wants to join the Seder.

One year in St. Louis, the family opened the door and discovered a man there about to knock. I can’t remember why this non-Jewish man was there but he was invited to join us. And he did.

We had a lot of fun at the home of Bob and Maureen Monday night, but no one was at the door nor did anyone in that house offer to clean my teeth.


2 Responses to "Maxwell House, Matzo, Peanut Butter & Me"

Finding the yellow and red box of Streit’s Matzos since 1925 ,lightly salted or not on a very bottom shelf at Festival was a delight and truly a “Taste of Memory”. Peanut butter, cream cheese, spinach dip, humus, sardines or eaten plain out of the box – cracking off a long skinny section at a time. I just had to share my enjoyment of Matzos.

I love the concept of “taste of memory.” It is so true. There are smells and tastes and even sounds of memory. I think that is something I’ll write about.
Thank you for writing and that concept.

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